Cover Image: Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall

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Member Reviews

Grab this book this month while reading Asian American and Pacific Islander titles. 
Great book for middle grade readers with wonderful illustrations. Having listened to the author talk about the book last year at ALA, I can say that she is really thoughtful in her writing and a pleasure to listen to! 
I gave this one to my son who is the same age as the MC and going through similar changes of not being a baby and finding a little more independence. As a child, my husband also took a journey after moving to go back home, so this quick read really hit home for my family.
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This book is a quirky tale of a boy who goes on an adventure across the world entirely on his own. While it's an unrealistic story, the humor and graphics make up for it in spades. My twelve year old son was thoroughly entertained, though perhaps not as invested as I was in the story. It is very well done and provided a few giggles along the way.
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After completely falling for Lai’s last book Pie in the Sky, I knew I had to get my hands on Fly on the Wall!

This newest book focuses on lowly Henry… a young man whose parents stifle any sort of independence out of him… Any change in his horrible daily routine of being treated like a baby will be greatly received Henry. He thinks he’ll have a chance to have some fun on the family’s trip to see Henry’s father in Singapore, but when the trip is cancelled Henry hatches a plan to make the trip on his own. An epic odyssey for a 12-year-old!

Told in very similar style as Pie in the Sky, Fly on the Wall’s story is told in diary format, combination of written passages and comic panels. It is Henry’s opportunity to express himself in the face of his hovering parents, his troubles at school, but also the excitement of his journey.

Read Fly on the Wall for a super coming-of-age story that will have your emotions all over the spectrum.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing, and the author for an advanced copy for review.
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quirky and sincere but difficult to follow both because of the issues involved and the hybrid use of genres
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Remy Lai proves her storytelling skills once again with Fly On the Wall, her second novel.  The unique hybrid format of her books - part graphic novel, part illustrated journal - is highly appealing to young readers, and her character building is masterful, as though we can see them being drawn on the page, colored in and then fleshed out enough to walk right out of the book as real people. Like her first book, Pie in the Sky, this story unfolds in layers, revealing more and more of our young protagonist, Henry, and the struggles he is facing.  Henry is determined to prove to his overprotective family that he is not a baby, so he sets out on a bold adventure to travel solo from Australia to Singapore, where his dad lives. The mistakes he makes and trouble he gets into along the way are hilarious, but as  Henry’s grand plans begin to unravel, truths are revealed both to readers and to Henry himself. This modern-day hero’s journey is brilliantly written with just the right balance of humor, suspense, and  introspection. There is so much to love about this book, and I know that kids will love it.
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This one was so much more than I expected. I thought it would be a run of the mill, coming age of story where the main character strives to gain his independence. But that's not all, it's got illustrations and the main character is flawed and has made a lot of mistakes. For most of the first half, I was seriously questioning whether I was supposed to like Henry and that's the point. Henry doesn't realize how flawed and selfish he is and his journey is figuring that out and making better decisions. I never thought I'd enjoy this book so much, but I really did.
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Fly On The Wall by Remy Lai
I loved this book about young Henry Khoo. He feels invisible, like nobody even notices him except his overprotective mother and grandmother. Even his older sister treats him like a baby. Determined to change that, he hatches a plan to sneak away to see his father...except his father lives on a different continent! 
Henry must work hard to keep his nosy family from discovering his plan and overcome his own fears about growing up and finding his independence.  He makes some missteps along the way and almost gets caught more than once. 
Adding to the difficulty Henry has with his secret travel plans is the fact that he has another big secret. He is the author of a popular blog that spreads rumors about kids and teachers at his school. Writing the blog makes him feel important and he doesn't really see why others find it problematic until it's almost too late. 
I really enjoyed this read. I cringed along with Henry when his decision making went against the responsibility he keeps insisting he is capable of.  I think older elementary school kids will understand Henry's desire to be treated like a grown up  AND see how he is making decisions that absolutely run counter to that desire.  My caution to my 6th grader was "Read this book, I think you'll like it but if you ever try to do what this kid did you will be grounded forever."
I recommend this book for ages 10-14
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I liked this book, but I found it a bit unlikely. Was definitely better to see in print once published, a lot like Diary of a Wimpy kid in format but not sure it would attract those who like that series. Not as much humor.
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Fly on the Wall is a clever story about a boy named Henry who feels smothered by what he feels is an overprotective family. He also is feeling sad about losing his best friend to another group of kids. He deals with each of these problems by taking measures that are drastic and potentially harmful. The results are not necessarily believable, but they are enjoyable, and Henry grows up a lot through consequences of his choices. The creative drawings in this book will make it interesting for middle grade readers, as they add humor to the storyline. Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this book to review.
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I thought this story was cute. I read it on my old Kindle keyboard and I was unable to read many of the comics, so I missed out on some of the storytelling. I thought the poetry was well-placed and I would be interested to see a print copy. That said, although I appreciated Henry's insight gained from his experiences, I don't know how well kids will connect with him. He made a lot of assumptions and then made bad decisions based on those assumptions. It just wasn't as fun to read as I had hoped.
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Told in dairy style, Fly on the Wall is a charming and endearing middle grade about friendships and independence. Henry is tired of being treated like a baby in his family. You know what will show them all? If he takes a trip to his dad in Singapore by himself. But what starts off as an ambitious, but straightforward plan, ends up taking Henry on a journey of friendship and growth. The illustrations feel organically woven into the story as pieces of humor and endear the readers to Henry.

But what drew me to Fly on the Wall is how touching and relatable Henry's struggles are. How many of us have never gone through a period in our life where we wanted to be treated more grown up? Where we felt like we didn't belong? Trying to be someone we aren't, just to fit in? Fly on the Wall explores issues of friendship fall outs, when you have history, but suddently everything changes and it leaves a hole in you. When you feel like you have to prove yourself so that your loved ones will see you for who you feel you are. Or the moments when you begin trying to be someone else, like a new outfit that doesn't fit properly.
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The main character is tired of feeling like a baby in his family with a helicopter Mom, Grandma and sister. Noone seems to treat him as a twelve-year old! He's also feeling alone and without friends--he's lost his bestie and been replaced by others making even his experience at school unbareable. So he resorts to taking matters into his own hands with his comic creation that is anonymously also bullying others at his school. Feeling unappreciated and misunderstood as if noone wants him, he decides to take a journey befitting his independence and travel alone. His coming of age and transformation is manifest in his journey and new friends as he learns more and accepts himself.
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Cute book. Funny at times. Not as many illustrations as I was expecting or wanting. Interesting story and concept. I kept wondering why the family hovered so much.
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Review copy: Digital ARC via Netgalley

Since I adored Remy Lai's previous book, Pie in the Sky, I was very excited to get my hands on this one. I read it in one sitting this afternoon. Henry is dealing with some seriously protective family members. He wants to be seen as someone who can make decisions and take care of himself. He also knows others who are living under completely the opposite circumstances. Between these characters, readers will definitely find something to relate with in some way. 

Henry creates comics and so the book is a mix of chapters and comics. There are a lot of readers that gravitate towards these types of mixes so I imagine that will also have a lot of appeal for my students. Of course, there is also plenty of humor even though sometimes it may make readers cringe a bit.

There is also a strong tech component. There are text screens to read and Henry creates his comics with digital art and posts them online. There is some cyberbullying in the plot line too. 

I'm looking forward to sharing this with middle grade readers this fall and expect it to fly off the shelves.
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I received an electronic ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group through NetGalley.
Lai has created another delightful middle school character. Henry is frustrated that his family constantly babies him. He's disappointed that they aren't going to Singapore over break to see his dad so he decides to fly alone from Perth. He hopes to prove that he can be independent and his mother, sister and grandmother will stop hovering. This works but not without some serious misadventures along the way. 
Humor wrapped around some serious topics. Middle grade readers will appreciate the pratfalls and misadventures while relating to the tougher emotions underneath. This book examines helicopter parenting from several sides. Henry feels smothered and learns why they are hovering toward the end of the book. His actions are triggering their reactions.
Lai understands these readers and captures this time in their life well.
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Fly on the Wall is about a 12 year old boy, Henry Khoo, who like any other middle schooler, wants to fit in and have friends. His family can be a little over protective, okay, maybe A LOT, and he just wants to be independent and not treated like a BABY anymore. Henry goes on a special quest to prove he doesn’t need to be baby-ed. 
I really liked the comics that were integrated throughout the book. I think many kids will relate with Henry and how he feels navigating friendships and feeling socially awkward at times. I have a feeling “Fly on the Wall” will fly off your shelf- buy extra copies!!
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Henry Khoo is odd - and he knows it.  He is okay with it because he has his “sworn sibling” BFF Phoebe and is content with her friendship.  Usually in the summer, Henry visits his dad in Singapore, but one summer he is home and is awkwardly invited to Phoebe’s birthday party, which he generally misses due  to his visits out of the country.  The party was horrible for Henry, he was uncomfortable and did not fit in, and was devastated to learn that Phoebe had other friends.  Henry tries to fit in with Phoebe’s friends but his social anxiety and awkwardness soon push him out of the circle.  Henry begins an anonymous gossip blog called “Fly on the Wall” and creates embarrassing comic strips about his classmates.  His mother, older sister and grandmother begin hovering over him because they know something is wrong and are very concerned.  He feels like a “helipad” and resents their overprotectiveness.  In an effort to declare his independence, Henry secretly buys a ticket to fly by himself to Singapore to see his Dad.  There were several mishaps, but Henry eventually makes his flight.  On the plane, he is seated next to Nor, a girl his age who, with her non-stop chatter and hard questions, forces Henry to recognize that in only thinking of himself and his hurt over having difficulty making friends, has not considered the effects of his blog on the people he has featured.  He realizes he is the bully.  

I really loved this book!  I hope to see it on some state award nomination lists.  Henry is very imperfect and very relatable.  Even though he tries to make amends, there were consequences to his actions and things did not work out perfectly.  Great messages of how your actions can affect others, how the bully is often acting out of personal hurt, and that apologies are still necessary even if it doesn’t make things alright again.  Wonderful illustrations that give some graphic novel feel to the book.  Great recommendation for fans of Gordon Korman’s “Restart.”  I think Remy Lai is one to watch - she’s turning out some great ones!
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I received an ARC through NetGalley from Henry Holt & Company. Twelve-year-old Henry is treated like a baby by his helicopter family and to take on this issue he decides to board a plane to Singapore to visit his dad. Henry is also the writer/illustrator of a blog that comically illustrated his school mates from his perspective as the “fly on the wall.” This independent and personal flight for Henry to visit his dad helps him to learn about himself and his place in the world amongst his family, friends and peers. A cute story filled with fun comical illustrations that aid the flow of this middle grade story. Great for ages 10-14. Fans of Lai’s “Pie in the Sky” will appreciate this as well. Good realistic fiction with nice illustrations.
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Henry, Fly on the Wall, is a very funny character full of insecurities and other foibles. He doesn't really know how to read people, particularly his best friend. He is good at drawing and winds up using his skill to start an online blog posting comics.  This helps him say things that he is too afraid and shy to say aloud but unfortunately his comments hurt many in his school culture. He is really a cyber bully in some ways but doesn't understand that he is.  His decision to carry out a crazy plan to travel from his home in Australia to Singapore to visit his Dad is full of twists, turns, lies and misfortune. The telling of the story has great comic drawings and attempts at some poetry throughout but following Henry's lack of logic sometimes gets a bit annoying.  Shouldn't he get a grasp of things earlier? How dare he plan a solo trip of that caliber?  Readers will be shaking their heads and wanting to shout to Henry that the actions he is choosing to do to prove that he is not a baby are in some ways blaring his immaturity. There are a few convenient meetings (his seat mate being someone he bumped into previously, his school mate on the same plane0 that seem a bit contrived but in the end it all works out--and there's even a food recipe at the end of the book!  The reader will be happy to see that Henry does learn to appreciate and accept those around him and, in that sense, is certainly not a baby anymore.
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Through text and drawings, the reader is introduced to 12 year old Henry Khoo, who feels "babied" by his family and is struggling to become independent.  He decides to fly to Singapore to see his dad to prove to his family that he is not a baby and also to escape punishment from being outed as "Fly in the Wall," the creator of a gossip cartoon.  I really thought I would be annoyed by Henry, but Lai does a wonderful job of making Henry likable.  This is a quick read and would appeal to tweens, especially those who are fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
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